Fecal Incontinence Symptoms and Impact in Older Versus Younger Women Seeking Care

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: The differential impact of aging on fecal incontinence symptom severity and condition-specific quality of life remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to characterize differences in symptom distress, quality of life, and anorectal physiology assessments in older versus younger women with fecal incontinence. DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at a tertiary genitorectal disorder clinic. PATIENTS: Women presenting for fecal incontinence evaluation between 2003 and 2016 were classified as older or younger based on age ≥65 or <65 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The main outcomes were symptom-specific quality of life and distress measured by validated questionnaires (the Modified Manchester Health Questionnaire containing the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index); anorectal physiology and anatomy were assessed by manometry and endoanal ultrasound. RESULTS: Of 879 subjects, 286 and 593 were classified as older and younger (mean ages, 71.4 ± 5.3 y and 51.3 ± 10.5 y). Solid stool leakage was more frequent in older women (83.2% vs 76.7%; p = 0.03), whereas liquid stool leakage (83.2% vs 82.8%; p = 0.88) and fecal urgency (76.9% vs 78.8%; p = 0.54) did not differ between groups. Mean symptom severity scores were similar between groups (28.0 ± 11.9 and 27.6 ± 13.5; p = 0.69); however, there was greater negative impact on quality of life among younger women (46.3 ± 22.0 vs 51.8 ± 21.8; p < 0.01). Multivariable linear regression controlling for pertinent covariates revealed younger age as an independent predictor for worse condition-specific quality-of-life scores (p < 0.01). Squeeze pressures were similar between groups, whereas younger women had greater resting pressures and higher rates of sphincter defects (external, 7.7% vs 20.2%; internal, 12.2% vs 26.8%; both p < 0.01). LIMITATIONS: This study was limited by its lack of patient obstetric history and the duration of their incontinence symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Characteristics differ between older and younger women seeking care for fecal incontinence. The differential impact and age-related phenotypes may provide useful information for patient counseling and developing management algorithms for women with fecal incontinence. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/A910.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Meyer I; Blanchard CT; Markland AD; Gibson EG; Richter HE
  • Start Page

  • 733
  • End Page

  • 738
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 6